This Week in Compliance

This Week in Compliance: SEC awarded USD 83 million to three whistleblowers

Here’s what’s been going on in the compliance world this week:

Business

  • Former Siemens AG executive pleads guilty in corruption probe: The executive, Eberhard Reichert, pled guilty to conspiring to bribe Argentinian officials for millions of dollars in order to win a USD 1 billion government contract to create national identity cards. Reichert pled guilty in federal court in Manhattan to one count of conspiring to violate FCPA anti-bribery provisions and bookkeeping provisions and to commit wire fraud. Reichert is one of eight people who was charged in relation to the case; all defendants are non-US citizens living outside the US. He was arrested and extradited from Croatia to the US last year. A sentencing date for Reichert has not yet been set.
  • SEC awarded USD 83 million to three whistleblowers: The US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) made a record award of USD 83 million on Monday to three whistleblowers. Two people received USD 50 million to be split between them and another person received USD 33 million. The first two whistleblowers would have received even more cash if they had not delayed their complaints “unreasonably” according to the SEC. The awards relate to the 2016 Merrill Lynch settlement, in which the bank paid USD 415 million over charges that it had misused customer cash for profit.
  • World Bank debars Manila-based consulting company: Innogy Solutions Inc. and its president, Lloly Yana de Jesus, were debarred by the World Bank for five and a half years for using secret inside information to win a bid and for failing to disclose a conflict of interest on another bid. The firm used “collusive and fraudulent practices” during the selection process for a World Bank funded project in the Philippines.

Government

  • Nicolas Sarkozy facing corruption charges: Former French President Sarkozy was charged on Wednesday with corruption, illegal campaign financing, and receiving Libyan public funds. Sarkozy was released from custody after being questioned for two days by police over allegations that his successful 2007 campaign was financed by Libya’s former government. Sarkozy has repeatedly denied the allegations, saying that the allegations are motivated by revenge after he played a key role in leading the 2011 intervention in Libya which unseated Muammar Gaddafi. Sarkozy is separately facing another investigation into his campaign finances in 2012 when he allegedly overshot the spending limit of EUR 22.5 in a case known as the Bygmalion scandal.
  • Peru’s President tenders his resignation: President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski offered his resignation to Peru’s Congress late on Wednesday. Kuczynski was due to face a near-certain impeachment vote on Thursday over his alleged involvement in the sprawling Odebrecht scandal. He stands accused of having accepted illegal payments from the firm. Video footage showing his political allies offering financial benefits to opposition lawmakers in return for their support in the upcoming impeachment vote surfaced this week, adding to the pressure on Kuczynski to resign. Peruvian prosecutors have asked a judge to bar Kuczynksi from leaving Peru while the Odebrecht investigation is ongoing.
  • Corruption whistleblower in Malta hands herself in: A key whistleblower in the corruption scandal surrounding Joseph Muscat, Malta’s Prime Minister, has handed herself into police in Athens, Greece. The whistleblower, named Maria Efimova who is a Russian national, has alleged that the private bank at which she was employed had been used to move funds for Maltese politicians and the children of Azerbaijan’s president in potentially corrupt transactions. Maltese authorities issued a European arrest warrant against Efimova last November, alleging she had made false claims against local police. Efimova has indicated that she had feared for her life before turning herself in.

Noteworthy

  • Cambridge Analytica managing director caught pitching bribery. Alexander Nix, chief of Cambridge Analytica, was caught by the UK’s Channel 4 in an hidden-camera video pitching bribery and so-called “honeytraps” to an undercover reporter posing as a Sri Lankan political operative, as tactics to sway an election.  The firm was thrust into the limelight last week after it was revealed that it had harvested personal information from over 50 million Facebook users without their consent. The firm used this information to develop techniques that aided its work on President Trump’s 2016 election campaign.
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